Mark Waltz, Connections Pastor at Granger Church and author of “First Impressions, Creating WOW experiences in your Church” believes that “Before we can be satisfied, we have to NOT be DISsatisfied. (yep, take a minute and let that sink in, repeat, think about it). When your visitors are distracted from the real purpose of their visit to your church, you’ll have a difficult time re-engaging them.
Even the smallest thing can make them “DISsatisfied” and in the wrong frame of mind to reap the rewards that your church has to offer. I contend that it’s worth the extra time and effort to identify and eliminate all potential dangers for losing the “WOW” factor for the first time visitor.
1. Challenge your Hospitality team to notice the small things, (then fix them):
- Is there only one roll of tissue in the restroom stall? What if it’s empty when your guest needs it? (appoint someone to arrive early and check all restrooms).
- Are the regulars all congregating in the hallway, stopped and immobile so the guests can’t fine the entry to the auditorium? (direct members to a meet and greet in an area not in front of the entry).
- The walkway to the detached Children’s area is uncovered, and it’s raining. (provide free umbrellas at the door for all guests. Found at a Dollar Store for $1.00)
2. Visit your church, again. For those of us on the front lines of ministry, it’s been a very long time since we experienced what our first time guests encounter. We arrive early and we’re the last ones to leave.
Take a week off to be a visitor in your own church. Arrive in the parking lot at peak time. Did all your volunteers arrive early and take all the good parking spots? Leave when service is over, with the crowd. Does traffic flow easily to the main street, or should there be a traffic patrol at the exits to assist?
- Experience Nursery Check-In when there’s a line, and parents are worried about getting to “big church” on time.
- Take a walk to the playground, as a visitor with small children might. Is everything in working order, trash-free, with the gate closed, or are the swings hanging by one chain and mud puddles under the see-saw? Do you feel like your children will be safe here?
3. Visit another church. Discover and take notes on what other churches are doing to create a satisfying experience for their guests. Did their signage help you or frustrate you? Were you greeted warmly, offered coffee and a bulletin? Did anyone tell you about the church and offer to supply you with literature?
4. Get input directly from your visitors.
- Add an area to the Welcome/Attendance card to “Tell us about your Experience”. Consider this feedback, and act on it, without taking it personally.
- Take a survey. Once a guest becomes a regular attender and feels at home in your church, send them a survey asking them to recount their first impressions and post-visit discussions with you and your team.Tell them that you “listen” and thank them for helping to enhance the hospitality of the church with their input.
5. Invite a non-church friend to visit as a “mystery guest” and supply them with a response card to return immediately after their visit.
I’d like to again, thank Mark Waltz for providing great examples of potential distractions and encouraging us to create our own list of hospitality standards.
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Blessed with the gift of gab and hospitality, Bev served as a staff member for a fast-growing church where she discovered her talent for helping people step out of their comfort zone. She began recruiting volunteers to serve in Children’s Ministry, and as the church grew, became focused on the influx of visitors and the need to make sure they didn’t get lost in the growth. For this, she developed a full team of trained volunteers to create the “WOW, from the Street to the Seat”. Her success with this program lead to speaking engagements at churches across North Georgia, prompting a string of WOW experiences! Now, as Marketing Manager for Displayit at Church, she loves sharing her tips, tricks and ideas, that can make a real difference.